The Calgary Real Estate Board’s Charitable Foundation is investing in a big way with local non-profit organizations to help build self-sustaining communities.
And this spring it announced it would be contributing an impressive $1 million to Habitat for Humanity over the next three years.
Since its inception 30 years ago, the Foundation has donated $6.3 million to local non-profit organizations through the support of more than 5,500 Calgary and surrounding area realtors.
Aneve MacKay-Lyons, CREB’s Charitable Foundation manager, says the Foundation believes in legacy giving.
“We have a 30-year legacy of giving back to the community and our biggest donations have the most profound impact in our community,” says MacKay-Lyons.
Last year, Rob Campbell, current immediate past president of the Foundation and a realtor with RE/MAX Real Estate (Central), and the rest of the Foundation’s board, re-directed the organization’s efforts.
Through Campbell’s leadership, it made the decision to be very strategic in its giving – to focus on legacy projects that will have the greatest impact.
“They knew they were going to commit a large amount of money. We had a number of organizations come in and present. They went through a full presentation and the board went into several discussion meetings and looked at the best community partnership – because that’s what they really wanted to do – and Habitat for Humanity was the selected recipient,” says MacKay-Lyons.
She says the Foundation has worked with Habitat for Humanity for the past few years and “it’s an amazing organization plus our members are able to get on site and help build (homes). So not only are we giving philanthropically, we are giving our time and our services. Feet on the ground.”
It was during Campbell’s year as president last year that changes in the Foundation’s focus were undertaken. Some tough decisions were made about the organization and its direction.
“It was a tough year for me as president to make some changes because we really weren’t going in a direction that made a lot of sense for who we were as an organization,” says Campbell. “It has been around a lot of years and we’ve given away almost $7 million but we had been giving money to smaller charities that definitely needed the help. There’s no doubt about it but it wasn’t really showcasing us as an organization. That wasn’t doing much for the members.
“We’re community-based so we didn’t mind doing it but I pursued philanthropy more as a business. We needed to get a return on our investment. Even though these definitely were worthy organizations – there’s no doubt about that – we weren’t getting much in the way of exposure in the media – because this money is the members’ money. So we needed to be able to show the members that we were doing something significant and impactful with their donations. We re-directed the Foundation to do more substantial donations – larger donations – and that’s how we kind of came to this thing where we needed to really start trying to find projects where there was a synergy between us in the real estate business and who we could help in the community. And Habitat was just the one that ended up coming to the top.”
Campbell says the purpose of the Foundation is to make an impact with housing and make an investment in the community.
“We’re giving back to the community that supports us as members,” he says. “We want to invest with local non-profits to help build self-sustaining communities.”
The Foundation is the charitable arm of the Calgary Real Estate Board. Every member, every year, when they pay their dues has a fee taken off the dues that goes directly to the Foundation.
“The direction we’re headed now is probably the best that it’s ever been. I was really proud of the fact that during our AGM this year we were able to announce this project with Habitat and one of the founding members of the Charitable Foundation, Harvey Gamble . . . came up to me afterwards and said he was so happy to see the direction that we were pursuing now because it was exactly what it was intended to be 30 years ago when they started it. And that meant a lot to me,” says Campbell.